When Kimberly Ruiz-Castillo told authorities that she had been sexually abused at home for years, her ties to family members were severed.
Just 12 years old at the time, Ruiz-Castillo, now 22, said authorities removed her from a relative’s crowded Bay Area home, and she began cycling through foster homes and high schools.
“I was a runaway mostly,” she said, chronicling stops in Oakland, East Palo Alto, San Ramon and San Mateo.
When her son, Joshua, was born three years ago, Ruiz-Castillo feared her next stop would be a shelter.
“I was stressed out,” she said. “I had no money coming in. I didn’t know how I was going to support my son if I couldn’t support myself.”
Just when things seemed bleakest, Ruiz-Castillo was welcomed into an East Oakland transitional home where young mothers leaving the foster care system can finally savor a little stability, receive on-site services and begin laying the groundwork for a productive life.